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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Silvio Torres-Saillant

Silvio portrait

Dean's Professor

English

Latino-Latin American Studies

417 Hall of Languages

315.443.9475

saillant@syr.edu


Books

Biography

Silvio Torres-Saillant, Professor in the English Department, is Dean’s Professor of the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he formerly headed the Latino-Latin American Studies Program, served as Director of the Humanities Council, and held the post of William P. Tolley Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities. His books include The Once and Future Muse: The Poetry and Poetics of Rhina P. Espaillat [with Nancy Kang] (University of Pittsburgh P. 2018), Caribbean Poetics (2nd ed. Peepal Tree Press 2013; 1st. ed. Cambridge University P. 1997), An Intellectual History of the Caribbean (Palgrave 2006), El tigueraje intelectual (2nd ed. Mediabyte 2011; 1st ed. CIAM/Manati 2002), El retorno de las yolas (2nd ed. Editora Universitaria Bonó 2019; 1st ed. LaTrinitaria/Manatí 1999), and The Dominican Americans [with Ramona Hernández] (Greenwood 1998).

He co-founded La Casita Cultural Center, an off-campus unit of the College of Arts and Sciences conceived as a bridge of communication, collaboration, and exchange between the school and the Latino population of the city while promoting the Hispanic heritages of Central New York. Before coming to SU, he founded the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, an interdisciplinary research at the City College of New York, and taught in the English Department of Hostos Community College, CUNY. As a visitor, he has taught at Amherst College, Harvard University, the Universidad de Cartagena, and Colombia’s Universidad Nacional. He lectures widely in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

A member of the Editorial Board of the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, he is Associate Editor of Latino Studies (Palgrave) and has edited the New World Studies Series for the University of Virginia Press.

Research and Teaching Interests

Torres-Saillant's work on the page and in the classroom engages the intellectual fraudulence and the enduring impact of the knowledges produced by scribes of the nations that spearheaded the conquest and colonization of the Americas beginning over five centuries ago. Prompted by expediency at a contingent juncture in the history of domination, the scribes in question created dogmas and literacies that transformed the logic of social relations regulating the rapport between the conquerors and the vanquished, largely marring the lens through which the descendants of each would view one another thenceforward. His research and teaching draw on intellectual history to understand the key role of epistemic violence in the chapter of imperial domination led by the European nations of Christendom that boasted naval power. Looking at modernity vis-à-vis antiquity, he focuses on the nature of social relations across difference of phenotype, ancestry, cultural heritage, and technological development. He finds no urgency among the ancients to demean the vanquished ontologically to match the frenetic compulsion of the moderns to disparage those they subdued while indulging in bizarre degrees of self-adulation. That contrast frames his scrutiny of the notions of race, ethnicity, culture, civilization, diaspora, and the tension between the ethnic and the human. His work makes a case for withdrawing from any lingering allegiance we may have to the lens bequeathed to us by the scribes of the colonial transaction to look at one another across difference.

Recent Courses

Professor Torres-Saillant teaches comparative ethnic-American literature, literatures of the Caribbean diaspora in the United States and Europe, Autobiography (Latino or across the ethnic spectrum), other genre-specific subjects such as Latino Fiction or Poetry courses, a Christopher Columbus course that traces the literary and cultural history showing the emergence from the 18th century onward of the Genoese sailor as a central icon of American patriotism, a course that looks a Hispanic cultural production in North America side by side with cultural production by English settlers and their descendants from 1513 to 1940, and another that traces the rise of the “racial imagination” by readings that capture encounters with difference from antiquity to the present.

News

Amid Complex History, Cuba Maintains Reverence for Literature

(March 16, 2017)

Silvio Torres-Saillant judged prestigious Casa de las Américas Literary Prize

Syracuse Professor Recognized for Contributions to Latina/o Studies

(June 1, 2015)

Silvio Torres-Saillant is recipient of Frank Bonilla Public Intellectual Award

Syracuse Professor to deliver keynote address at MLK celebration in Geneva, NY

(Jan. 14, 2015)

Silvio Torres-Saillant will discuss importance of peaceful coexistence, interfaith respect